Gender equality results in improvement: Turkish minister


Creating sustainable economic growth and achieving social development are only possible if women equally participate in society alongside men, Turkey’s Minister of Labor, Social Services and Family said Monday.

Speaking in New York at a conference titled “Good Business; Women’s Economic Empowerment Through Entrepreneurship”, Zehra Zumrut Selcuk said as Turkey approaches the 100th anniversary of the republic, women are entering the workforce in increasing numbers and helping to strengthen the society.

“Not making use of the knowledge, skills and experiences of women, who constitute half of the human capital, is a serious loss for Turkey as well as for the world,” Selcuk said.

“If women are strong in a society, the family and society will be strong as well,” she added.

The conference was organized by the Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey within the scope of the UN’s 63rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women which began Monday and will run until March 22.

Women’s participation in Turkey’s labor force has increased by 34 percent while the employment rate for women has risen by 29 percent, according to Selcuk.

Entrepreneurship was emphasized as a sector for women which has been stressed by the ministry as an area of necessary growth, and more initiatives are needed to increase the number of women entrepreneurs in Turkey.

The Labor, Social Services and Family Ministry has offered several programs and initiatives to help increase women’s participation in entrepreneurship, including the organization of training programs for women in 16 provinces across the country as well as dispersing microcredit loans to 180,000 low-income women.

Another initiative was also mentioned called “the Strategy Paper and Action Plan on Women’s Empowerment” which set a strategy to advocate for policies to help women’s entrepreneurship through the use of information technology.

Selcuk offered the motto “Strong women, strong Turkey”.

Global progress, in terms of decreasing gender disparity in workplaces across the world, is also being made in significant strides. According to a World Bank database, 131 economies made 274 reforms to laws and regulations aimed at increasing gender equality.

“Female-run enterprises are steadily growing all over the world, contributing to household incomes and the growth of national economies,” the World Bank said in a report.

However, the gender gap in the workplace is overall still largely unequal. Just 38 out of 141 economies covered in the same dataset set out equal legal rights for both women and men in areas like “opening a bank account, getting a job without permission from their spouse and owning and managing property”.